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Late Night (2019)

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This film is so firmly on the fence between "fresh" and "rotten" than I think I spent more time trying to decide that than I did actually watching the movie. It's affable, I guess, but I thought it too often presumed its own relevance and its own funniness rather than earning the chips it was trying to cash in.



About half-way through the film, Molly finally nudges Katherine into doing some jokes about women and the appalling ways they are treated in the entertainment industry (and the society at large). Katherine delivers a hardly-fresh but still genuinely funny zinger about how the only movie roll she would be cast in is that of Sean Penn’s grandmother in the movie where he is dating Emma Stone. The joke itself is the sort of low-hanging fruit that the film should be able to pluck any time for a quick laugh — something that reinforces the the theme of gender disparity rather than standing in for the argument in its entirety. Still, it’s delivered well by Thompson and gets a reaction…which is then instantly undercut by the screenplay having Katherine explain the joke. She is only seven years older than Sean Penn…he is significantly older than Emma Stone…oh, is that why I was laughing? The joke itself is funny because it engenders a “that’s so true” response, but then it undercuts itself by assuming most of the audience won’t get it and turns itself into a feminist lecture rather than a lament.


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